Are Power Words Replacing New Year’s Resolutions?

The trend moving towards power words over New Year’s resolutions is growing every year! Do you think power words will replace resolutions?


Every year, approximately 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. And, about 42% of that number report that they pretty much never succeed in their resolutions.

What gives?

Are we so in to the habit of setting unrealistic goals that we get discouraged before we ever start?

Or, do we, as a nation of short attention spans, lack the willpower to follow through?

Is there a possible solution to increase our success ratios?

Turns out, the solution is already a trend and it’s called a “power word.”

Are power words replacing new year's resolutions?

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Some people call it their “word of the year” and it even has its own acronym.


It’s been suggested that a WOTY is a replacement for goals and resolutions.

I don’t recall ever thinking of my words as a New Year’s goal or resolution. In retrospect, having a “code word” or “power word” helped me to keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak. Still, if the prize was being more confident, being bold and becoming a healthier person, that’s very much a personal resolution.

One woman, when I asked for opinions on the use of power words described her power word this way: “It didn’t replace any of my goals, it just shaped how I handled things based on that word.”

I’ve been using so-called “power words” for several years without knowing they had an official name. Mostly, I thought of them as “code” words to remind me of habits or actions I wanted to cultivate. My words were usually chosen based on situations or personal issues I was trying to overcome at that point in my life.

Are Power Words Replacing New Year’s Resolutions?

Around 2009, I went through a phase in my business where I felt passionate about helping entrepreneurial moms understand that they are INCREDIBLE but also that they needed to establish credibility online and in social media. Everything was INCREDIBLE. I don’t remember if it started at the beginning of a year or not.

Then, there was RASPBERRIES. Yes. You read that correctly. No, the focus was not to become a raspberry. I chose this particular word on my birthday. I was a few years after 40 and not thrilled about it. Then, out of nowhere, I said out loud, “Raspberries, 43!” It was my way of flipping the bird at getting older. There followed over a year of saying Raspberries!, with great emphasis, whenever I faced a challenging obstacle. I may have over done it a bit because my kids started wondering if I was using it as a swear word.

Next, there was the word, FEARLESS. Once again, it had to do with things happening in my life. I was coming out of a disastrous marriage where my confidence in my abilities was pretty shaken up. Whereas, I was once very confident and unafraid of new opportunities, I was now saying I’m scared in my thoughts frequently. I decided to put the word fearless where I would see it often. I needed to remind myself not to say, I’m scared, or I would make myself actually be afraid. I had it engraved on a ring. Fearless became my mantra. My reminder. I’d use it to steady myself whenever I felt overwhelmed. I received a necklace as a gift with the word “Fearless.” A friend made me a cool tumbler with “Fearless” written in scripted glitter font. I embraced the reminders.

In talking with other women, I learned that choosing a word is almost always symbolic of a desire to evolve or change something in their personal or business life.

And, that’s the reason most people choose to set New Year’s goals or resolutions. A personal goal to lose weight, get in shape, work out more. Spend more time with family. Business or career goals to double and triple revenue.

For some of us, it’s easy to set the goal, map out a plan and follow each step accordingly. There may be obstacles along the way but a written strategy or plan remains in front of us, or in our planner or on the wall.

But, for others? Well, let’s just say that mapping out a strategy might happen or it might not. Obviously, I have no idea who this might refer to…. We might follow it. We might forget about it. We try but life gets busy and it becomes easier to put the goal or the resolution on the back burner.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for a goal, resolution or change to be achieved, we must want it deep inside. Deeply enough that we will be moved to take steps to keep it in front of us always. So much so, that it overrides our tendency to get wrapped up in the busy problems of life and forget what we set out to do.

A very detailed strategy for achieving your goals is helpful when plotting each move and proceeding in the right order.

But, there is something else to consider:

Creative, detailed strategies and goals can also be incredibly overwhelming depending on each person and how they process life, in general, and how they motivate themselves.

If you are already crazy busy in your life, adding numerous new plans may have the opposite effect you are looking for.

It can be frustrating for the average person to make a change. But, you know the saying, right?

To make a change, you have to make a change.

What if you narrowed your goals into one word?

That’s where the power word comes into play. You can use one word as your personal theme for 2018. Think of it as an umbrella where many goals and intentions come together and can be achieved in bite sized pieces throughout the year because your one power word contributes to all of them being achieved.

As one woman puts it, “I’m intentionally using a word to touch base with myself. I found it very helpful to clear some mind barriers about some of my goals. It (choosing a single word) was not about force of will or sheer determination.”

That’s an excellent point. We may realize that it is impractical but when we set goals, we subconsciously think there is this expectation to achieve it by sheer force of will, no matter what, come hell or high water. It’s not hard to see how that could get stressful.

But, when we choose a word of intention, life gets more interesting. This year, I knew I was changing my word from FEARLESS to COURAGE back in November. My friend’s perspective that the word is used to touch base with yourself is dead on.

I’m not setting a goal to be “a courage.” I’m recognizing a quality in my character that needs strengthening. I know that when I strengthen the trait of courage, other areas of my life will improve. For example, procrastination. Putting things off. When I put things off, there is usually a fear factor in there somewhere. I need to stand up to that.

When I don’t want to work out because I’m afraid I’ll miss my sleep or get behind on a project, I need to stand up to that. My health will improve, I’ll get more sleep and have more energy to work on projects because I was courageous in small ways.

What about you? Did you choose a power word or word of the year?

How did you choose it?

How do you feel about using a single word to guide your intentions for a better you instead of a list of resolutions?

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Krissy Gillaspia

Krissy is unique in that she is a professional content writer and editor who also builds WordPress websites at Her clients enjoy getting their content done simultaneously with their website creation. She's written for 10 Best (div. of USA Today) and been privileged to coach hundreds of moms and grandmas on working remotely. As founder of the Women Working Remotely course, she is passionate about helping women become both financially and location independent.

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